Use of garden organic compost in a long-term vegetable field trial: biological soil health

N. J. Donovan, F. Saleh, K. Y. Chan, S. M. Eldridge, D. Fahey, L. Muirhead, I. Meszaros, I. Barchia

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Alternative management practices need to be developed to improve the sustainability of intensive vegetable production in peri-urban areas. A field trial was established in 2005 at Camden, near Sydney, Australia to evaluate the effect of garden organic compost on vegetable production and soil quality relative to conventional practice and under low and high soil P status. The trial comprised seven treatments; compost (garden organic), conventional practice (fertiliser and poultry manure) and a mixture of compost and inorganic fertiliser, all replicated at high and low soil P, plus a nil control. Compost was applied once at the beginning of the trial and again before the 6 th crop (125 dry t/ha/application). Results are reported for 7 consecutive vegetable crops: broccoli, eggplant, cabbage, capsicum, leek, capsicum and broccoli. Production and crop quality parameters were recorded. Soil samples were collected and chemical, physical and biological properties analysed at the time of planting all crops and prior to harvest for crops 4 to 6. Soil biological indicators measured include basal respiration, microbial biomass carbon, hydrolysis of fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and fungal DNA. Compost application significantly increased soil respiration in the first crop but the benefit was diminished in subsequent crops. The response was more pronounced in the crop soils following the second compost application with respiration, biomass and FDA higher in the compost treatments. Preliminary DNA analysis of soil samples collected in the second capsicum crop found a greater diversity of fungal organisms in the low P compost treatment. Future work will look at expanding the assessment of soil biological indicators and the potential for pathogen suppression.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Ist International Symposium on Organic Matter Management and Compost Use in Horticulture
    Subtitle of host publicationAdelaide, South Australia, Australia April 4-7, 2011
    EditorsJ. Biala, R. Prange, M. Raviv
    Place of PublicationLeuven, Belgium
    PublisherISHS
    Pages47-56
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)9789462610040
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventInternational Symposium on Organic Matter Management and Compost Use in Horticulture (1st : 2011) - Adelaide, SA, Australia
    Duration: 4 Apr 20117 Apr 2011

    Publication series

    NameActa horticulturae
    PublisherISHS
    Number1018
    ISSN (Print)0567-7572

    Conference

    ConferenceInternational Symposium on Organic Matter Management and Compost Use in Horticulture (1st : 2011)
    CountryAustralia
    CityAdelaide, SA
    Period4/04/117/04/11

    Keywords

    • Biological activity
    • Compost
    • Microbial biomass
    • Respiration
    • Vegetables

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